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Cablegate: Nigeria: Biweekly Pol/Econ Updates for Apr 1-15,

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DE RUEHUJA #0760/01 1150700
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240700Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2672
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 9126
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS ABUJA 000760

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA
DEPT PASS TO USTR-AGAMA
DOE FOR GPERSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON EPET ETRD KJUS KCOR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: BIWEEKLY POL/ECON UPDATES FOR APR 1-15,
2008

THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (U) Following is a joint Embassy Abuja-ConGen Lagos
compilation of April 1-15, 2008 political/economic
highlights, which did not feature in our other reporting,
covering:
-- Election Tribunals
-- PDP Politics
-- Corruption
-- National Assembly
-- Economic News
-- Oil and Gas
-- Other News

------------------
ELECTION TRIBUNALS
------------------
2. (U) Chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission
(INEC) Maurice Iwu delivered a lecture, entitled "April 2007
elections: What Went Right," at the University of Ibadan.
Iwu excoriated the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP),
and said the spate of state and federal assembly elections
that tribunals and appeals courts had been nullifying
throughout the country were due to intra-party disagreements
within the PDP. Iwu also blamed the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission and the former Attorney General under
Obasanjo for problems with the 2007 polls (judged by many
observers to have been largely fraudulent).

3. (U) SOKOTO: On April 11, the Kaduna Court of Appeal
overturned the election of Sokoto governor Aliyu Wamakko
(PDP) and deputy governor Mukhtar Shagari (former president
Shehu Shagari's son), claiming they were not qualified to
stand on the platform of the PDP. Wamakko and Shagari had
been candidates of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP)
until they decamped to the PDP in early February 2007. The
Democratic People's Party had appealed the decision of the
Sokoto State Election Tribunal to uphold Wamakko's election.
The State House Assembly Speaker was sworn-in as acting
governor pending the results of a new election. (Wamakko
served as deputy to former governor Bafarawa from 1999 until
2005, when he resigned following impeachment allegations by
the State Assembly.) New elections are expected within three
months.

4. (U) KEBBI: The election of Saidu Usman Dakingari (PDP) was
upheld April 11 by the Kaduna Court of Appeal, overruling the
Kebbi Election Tribunal's earlier decision against Dakingari
(who is also President Yar'Adua's son-in-law).

5. (U) KANO, ZAMFARA, KATSINA, KADUNA: The Kaduna Court of
Appeal struck out challenges to the elections of Kano
governor Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP), Zamfara governor Mahmud
Shinkafi (ANPP), and Katsina governor Ibrahim Shema (PDP).
Also, the Kaduna State Election Tribunal upheld the election
of Kaduna governor Namadi Sambo (PDP).

6. (U) BAYELSA: The Port Harcourt Court of Appeal overturned
the election of Bayelsa governor Timipre Sylva (PDP) April
15, rejecting the Bayelsa Election Tribunal's earlier ruling.
Fresh elections have been ordered within 90 days.

------------
PDP POLITICS
------------
7. (U) PDP National Chair Vincent Ogbulafor urged party
members to practice the politics of inclusion. Ogbulafor
said during his tenure he hopes to entice more people to the
party by reforming the PDP through working with opposition
state executives. Ogbulafor also endorsed the idea of a
one-party state and said he envisions a time when all
Nigerians "would become members of the ruling party and the
country would become a one-party state." In addition, the
PDP Chair remarked that the PDP wants to "rule for 60 years."

8. (SBU) Nigerian press reported April 14 that former PDP
National Chair Ahmadu Ali, who had been approved as Nigeria's
Ambassador to South Africa, had yet to collect his
accreditation papers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Press indicated Ali may decline the ambassadorship, in
protest over being refused an ambassadorial nod to a more
"developed" country (i.e., the U.S. or U.K.), and remain in
Nigeria. Ali is also reportedly angry over the treatment he
has received from President Yar'Adua.

----------
CORRUPTION
----------
9. (U) Media reports claim that former Wema Bank Managing
Director Adebisi Omoyeni was sacked by the Central Bank
(CBN). John Aboh was appointed to replace him. The CBN and
Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) accused Omoyeni
of concealing facts about bank operations. Following his
appointment, Aboh announced Wema bank was healthy, and the
CBN and NDIC concurred. Omoyeni has sent a petition to
President Yar'Adua asserting that he was removed from Wema
Bank because he blocked the bank's acquisition by First City
Monument Bank (FCMB). According to Omoyeni, former Wema Bank
Chief Executive Officer and current CBN Deputy Governor for
Financial Sector Surveillance, Tunde Lemo, championed FCMB's
acquisition attempt. Omoyeni was later arrested by the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on March 27 for
allegedly perpetrating a $4 million fraud, and other sundry
financial crimes. Tunde Lemo has been invited to appear
before the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to
answer questions about his stewardship of Wema Bank, but has
so far refused to appear. The ICPC has threatened to arrest
Lemo.

10. (SBU) While reports of pirate attacks on fishing trawlers
and cargo ships on Nigeria's coastal water have increased in
recent years, a U.S. Coast Guard officer visiting Lagos port
told EconOff that the criminal activities on Nigeria's
coastal water do not meet the technical definition of piracy.
U.S. shipping companies in Lagos told EconOff that while the
increasing rate of criminal activity has resulted higher
business costs, this problem is expected in some parts of the
world, including Nigeria, and companies can absorb the
additional cost. The biggest challenge for shipping
companies continues to be corruption and bureaucratic
bottlenecks at Nigerian ports of entry.

-----------------
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
-----------------
11. (U) The Senate reconvened April 15 after a four-week
recess. Besides final passage of the 2008 budget, which
President Yar'Adua signed April 14, the Senate will address
Constitutional review, and investigations into the Health
Committee scandal as well as the sale of federal properties,
demolition of houses and revocation of lands in the Federal
Capital Territory under former President Obasanjo.

-------------
ECONOMIC NEWS
-------------
12. (SBU) Ministry of Transport Requests Technical
Assistance: On April 7, Ministry of Transportation (MOT)
Director Dr. Bolade requested technical support to rebuild
Nigeria's roads, railways, airports, and waterways; the
technical assistance request stems from President Yar'Adua's
December 2007 meeting with President Bush. The MOT solicited
support in identifying U.S. contractors, engineers, and
investors for roads and railway construction. MOT hopes
General Electric will revisit their pledge of support and
develop contracting partners for rail refurbishment, and that
the USG identify engineering firms to construct bridges.

13. (SBU) TIFA Working Group: The U.S.-Nigeria Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Working Group's first
quarterly digital video conference (DVC) took place April 10.
The USG was represented by the U.S. Trade Representative's
Office, State, Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank,
Small Business Administration, U.S. Trade Development Agency,
African Development Foundation, USAID and the Department of
Agriculture. The GON was led by Badeji Abikoye, newly
appointed Director of Trade at the Ministry of Commerce and
Industry (Abikoye spent the last six years as Nigeria,s
Trade Chief at the Nigerian Consulate in Shanghai, China.)
Nigerian agencies present were the Ministry of Commerce and
Industry, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Nigerian Customs
Service, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Ministry of
Agriculture and Water Resources, and the Association of
Nigerian Exporters. The five hour DVC covered AGOA, trade
and investment, transportation, energy, infrastructure, trade
capacity building and other assistance. It was agreed that
both sides would continue to communicate at regular intervals
to discuss bilateral trade issues.

14. (SBU) Intellectual Property Rights Working Group: As part
of the TIFA Working Group a separate DVC was held between the
USG intellectual property rights (IPR) working group
comprising USTR, State, Department of Justice, U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, the Department of Commerce and the
Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) on April 9. The DVC
focused on IPR enforcement, status of pending IP legislation,
public awareness, and training/technical assistance. Both
sides agreed to develop an action plan and hold regular
meetings to review progress made. (Post will report septel
on the TIFA in more detail).

15. (U) Food Prices: Nigeria is a major rice importer and
although global prices have gradually increased, domestic
prices have not matched it. A possible reason is that
stockpiles from the 2007 season are still available. When
importers buy new supplies the price is likely to go up.
Local bakers are considering a 25% price increase per bread
loaf due to rising prices for wheat flour and sugar. The
price of bread will increase from $.97 to $1.28 and from
$1.28 to $1.58, depending on loaf size. In February 2008,
Nigerian bakers petitioned the GON to regulate commodity
prices and raw materials, however were rebuffed. In
response, bakers are considering a nationwide strike on April
23.

-----------
OIL AND GAS
-----------
16. (SBU) On April 8, the Managing Director of Texaco
Nigeria (Chevron's downstream operation in Nigeria) Ruben
Halfhuid told the Ambassador that Chevron has decided to sell
Texaco Nigeria. The move is part of a broader strategic
review of Chevron's worldwide operations. The sale does
not/not reflect on Chevron's interest in upstream oil
production in Nigeria or future investments in the natural
gas sector. A senior local Chevron executive told Lagos
EconOff that Chevron remains committed to the upstream sector
in the region.

17. (U) Gasoline shortages and long lines at local gas
stations continue to plague the country, and Lagos in
particular. Government regulators stopped another shipment
of gasoline that contained too high a percentage of ethanol.
As previously reported, gasoline mixed with ethanol had been
pulled from the market in March 2008 after motorists
complained of engine damage. In a statement to the press,
one union official speculated that shortages could be
connected to the upcoming expiration of an agreement between
unions and the GON not to raise the price of gasoline. In
the paper, the union official warned of strikes if the
government attempted to raise the gasoline price, currently
set at 70 naira ($ 0.60) per liter.

----------
OTHER NEWS
----------
18. (U) Former Chief of Army Staff General Ishaya Bamaiyi,
who served under former Head of State Sani Abacha, was
acquitted of murder April 3. Bamaiyi had been standing trial
since 1999 for the attempted murder of Alex Ibru, publisher
of Nigerian newspaper The Guardian, and former Delta State
Sports Commissioner Isaac Porbeni. Bamaiyi had been arrested
and charged along with Abacha's Chief Security Officer by a
Special Investigation Panel established by former President
Obasanjo, prompting rumors Bamaiyi's arrest was politically
motivated.
SANDERS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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